Thursday, April 30, 2009

America to blame for 'lack of evidence' in Hariri case....

Robert Fisk at his creepiest best, in the Independent, here

"... Once more the UN donkey, clip-clopping on to the world stage after the murder of Mr Hariri, has been proved a mule. Judge Daniel Fransen, of the UN tribunal, declared in the Hague yesterday that the Big Four – how well we know their names in Lebanon – should go free ...
If this "evidence" existed (and the UN examined millions of phone calls recorded by British intelligence on Mount Troudos in Cyprus), then it failed to prevent the decision yesterday. Barack Obama's new friendship with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must be going great guns..."So who killed Rafiq Hariri? Until yesterday, the Lebanese, whose protests after the massacre forced the Syrian army out of Lebanon, thought they knew. And who was it who wanted, as President of the United States, to open a new door to the Syrians? President Obama. And who was it who stood next to Rafiq Hariri's son, Saad, in Beirut, three days ago, to assure him of US support? Why, Mr Obama's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, of course."

Israeli fears & 'Prime Minister' Obama's "surprise" demand....

Haaretz, here
"...A political source in Jerusalem said that Netanyahu's associates have been recently discussing a scenario in which Obama makes unequivocal demands on issues like West Bank settlement construction, illegal outposts and negotiations with the Palestinians. 
The aides also fear a public clash between the two premiers, such as during a news conference or in comments the pair make, in which their differences will be aired. ...... The source's comments came after officials in Jerusalem were themselves surprised by a report in the L.A. Times Monday that the Obama administration has asked Congress to amend U.S. law to enable the Palestinian Authority to receive federal aid even if Hamas joins a unity coalition. .."

"... Saudi king spoke with Israel's President Shimon Peres at a UN..."

Reuters, here

"Saudi Arabia demanded on Thursday that the U.S. State Department retract a claim that King Abdullah met Israel's president last year, in a rare public rebuke toward the kingdom's veteran ally.
William Burns, undersecretary at the State Department, told a conference on U.S.-Saudi relations in Washington this week that the king spoke with Israel's President Shimon Peres at a United Nations conference on dialogue among world religions in New York in November. ....
"The comments by the State Department undersecretary are absolutely baseless and made up," a statement from an "official source" on the state news agency SPA said.
"The official source demanded that the State Department retract the news and offer an explanation and clarification of the reasons behind this falsehood that does not serve relations between the two friendly countries."
Riyadh has resisted U.S. pressure to establish public channels with Israel before any final peace, but there have been numerous reports in recent years of secret meetings between senior members of the Saudi royal family and Israeli officials.
Riyadh has denied the reports, which could damage its credibility among many Arabs and Muslims who say Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, is too close to Washington.
Islamist network al-Qaida launched a campaign to topple the Saudi rulers in 2003 and Riyadh fears militants could use its poor southern neighbor Yemen to revive the insurgency. "

Gates: Military strike won't halt Iran nuke program

"...Gates told Senate appropriators that a military attack on Iran would merely send the country's nuclear program further underground. Instead, he said that the United States and its allies must convince Tehran that its nuclear ambitions would spark an arms race that would leave the country less secure. .."

"... you can't decide not to deal with Saudi Arabia because of its problems with human rights..."

Condi Rice in a previous tape, via FP, here

"... If you were there in a position of authority, and watched Americans jump out of 80-story buildings because these murderous tyrants went after innocent people, then you were determined to do anything that you could that was legal to prevent that from happening again. And so I think people do understand that.

Now, as to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and so forth -- I agree with you. We have tried to use the trafficking in persons and all of those measures, human rights reports and so forth, to put a spotlight on the kinds of problems that you have in places like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or Oman or other places. But you can't -- you don't have the luxury in foreign policy of saying, alright, I won't deal with that country because I don't like its human rights record. You don't have that luxury. So if you need Saudi Arabia to fight al Qaeda internally -- which is by the way where al Qaeda came from -- or if you need Saudi Arabia to be part of a coalition that's going to help bring a Palestinian state, you can't decide not to deal with Saudi Arabia because of its problems with human rights. Or, if you need to make sure that the Gulf is safe from Iranian influence -- you want to talk about human rights abusers? -- Iran......."

"...Saudis Buy Up “Mini-Nuke” Material..."

Wired's Danger-Room, here

Mythical red mercury, the supposed fuel for mini-nukes, is still alive and gearing up for a comeback. For the past two decades, people have reportedly peddled the fictional material to would-be bomb makers to dumb to know what they’re buying. The latest scam, reported this month in the Saudi Gazette, involves people buying old Singer sewing machines.

As the Saudi Gazette reported:

The rumors, which first started circulating a few days ago via the Internet and then the word of mouth, led to a rush for sewing machines that could previously have been bought for as little as SR200. … Believers of the rumors say that the presence of a drop of red mercury in the machine’s needle can be verified with a mobile telephone. If the line cuts off when the telephone is placed close to the needle, they say, that proves the existence of the substance.

EU countries Trade With Iran, Despite Talk Of Global Boycott

In the Bulletin, here
"... The European countries trading with Iran include:Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and France and are worth $15.4 billion.
“Despite the sanctions imposed on Iran by some Western countries and U.S., the European states are keen on continuing bilateral economic cooperation with Iran,” he said, referring to the figure of trade exchange between Iran and those states..."

"Inevitably, there will be political consequences... an opposite political impact."

AP, here

"Inevitably, there will be political consequences," al-Sayyed told The Associated Press in an interview. "It was only natural that when the tribunal took a decision that goes against the politically motivated detention, there would be an opposite political impact."

The tribunal's decision was a setback for Lebanon's pro-Western political bloc headed by Hariri's son Saad. The alliance, which holds a majority in parliament, was struggling to contain the political damage heading into crucial elections in June against a Hezbollah-led faction.....

"What happened yesterday amounts to the downfall of the Lebanese judiciary at the hands of the international justice," he said. He said he would consider himself compensated "if the judges who erred, the officers and the journalists who fed the false witnesses with information, resign as a result of the court's decision."

He said he would wait for their resignation or dismissal, but if that does not happen, he and the others may eventually bring a lawsuit against those responsible for his detention..."

Feltman & Shapiro return to Damascus as U.S. Plans New Talks

In the WSJ, here
"...The Obama administration is dispatching two high-level envoys (Feltman & Shapiro) to Syria in coming weeks for a second round of talks focused on securing the Iraqi border and supporting the Arab-Israeli peace process, said officials briefed on the trip.... "If the American president does not renew the sanctions, Syria would consider this the right way for better relations," Syrian Central Bank Gov. Adib Mayaleh said in an interview in Washington on Wednesday...The U.S. outreach comes as a United Nations court announced Wednesday the release in Beirut of four Lebanese generals detained in connection with the 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The generals' release is seen undercutting U.N. efforts to secure indictments for the murder, and a boon for Syria's political allies inside Lebanon..."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bombing Iran may not be the 'best solution' ... let's monitor their missiles!

Haaretz, here
"I'm not sure that bombing the nuclear facilities is the best solution. You know, the moment there are centrifuges, you can destroy the centrifuges. You cannot destroy the know-how to create centrifuges. You can postpone," he told Channel 10.Asked whether Israel could accept a nuclear Iran, the president said: "Attacking the nuclear sites is not the only option. The West has other options. First of all we can tell the Iranians 'If you launch a nuclear attack, it doesn't matter against whom, it will illicit a nuclear response.' Secondly, we can monitor their missiles. It is easier to monitor launching devices. If, like they say, they are not interested in developing nuclear weapons, why do they need launchers?"..."
My friend, Gen. Mustapha Hamdan, saying farewell to the Rumieh inmates, as he was acclaimed by all including the hapless Salafis who are usually Electoral fodder of the 11th hour for the FUTURE bloc... . Private Photo from Private Collection.

...M14 lobbied to delay decision until after the elections, but Tribunal figures refused "political considerations"...

... Lebanese officials had lobbied to have the decision delayed until after the elections, but tribunal judicial figures refused, saying they could not take political considerations into account, said a senior court official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the court’s inner workings. ... The tribunal has always been controversial in Lebanon. Many supporters have seen it as a way to punish Syria and its proxies here, which they tend to blame for all the assassinations since 2005. By contrast, those in the political opposition — including Hezbollah — see it more as a political weapon aimed at their Syrian ally. They also ask why such a tribunal is warranted for a billionaire politician and not for the victims of the many massacres and assassinations that have taken place here in recent decades..."

"...Les juges libanais se retrouvent dans un cas tres delicat. Ils doivent des explications aux libanais..."

March 14 Justice 'limps' to a painful closure!

"... La loi internationale interdit d'arreter un suspect au dela de 90 jours sans jugement et sans preuve... c'est la raison principale evoquee par le juge du TSL ... Les juges libanais se retrouvent dans un cas tres delicat. Ils doivent des explications aux libanais..."

As Israel calls Syria-Turkey drill "worrisome", someone strikes hard blow to Turkish Army...

"... a recent Turkish-Syrian joint military exercise and bilateral defense cooperation agreement has raised concern in Israel, ... Brig. Gen. Beyazıt Karataş, Turkish defense ministry deputy undersecretary for Technology and Coordination Air, said relations with Syria on every level are of great importance,"...  the exercise involved ... holds a value against smugglers and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, operating along the border,.... " 
Very timely indeed! Reuters, here
"...The separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group is believed to have carried out the southeast Turkey bombing. It has carried out similar attacks in the past using improvised explosive devices targeting security forces.
The identity of the assailants in Ankara is unclear. The former justice minister targeted in the attack, Hikmet Sami Turk, was hated by left-wing organisations for his policies when he was in office and he had received death threats. One of the attackers was reportedly jailed previously for membership of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front or DHKP/C, the largest of Turkey's many far-left factions..."

... and Mubarak congratulates Israel

YNETnews, here

Saad Hariri: "The Opposition to blame for prolonged imprisonment of the "Four Generals""

The gile of that boy.

... and it begins: "Meurtre d'Hariri : sur la piste des exécutants islamistes"

a taste of things to come! Le Figaro, here
"... Voire même «une piste criminelle» liée aux activités financières du milliardaire Hariri ? De nombreuses hypothèses ont été avancées. Mais les preuves et les suspects identifiés manquent..."

The Generals ...TO FREEDOM!

QN: "... Almost four years to the day when the last Syrian soldier trudged ignominiously over the Lebanese border, Syria may have finally wiped its hands of the entire Hariri debacle."

Hezbollah, allies positioning to win election

AP/ The Wash-Times, here
"...Nevertheless, a Hezbollah win would almost certainly mean changes that would dismay the West and Israel. It would mean less pressure from Lebanon's government to rein in Hezbollah's arsenal of rockets pointed at the Jewish state - weapons employed in the 2006 war with Israel - and more backing for efforts to change Lebanon's electoral system to solidify Shi'ite power further. ...

So far, Hezbollah has campaigned quietly, with none of its trademark fiery anti-Israel rallies. Its 10 candidates have been holding town hall meetings in Shi'ite villages, focusing on promises to root out corruption and improve government performance, and stressing government by consensus.

By contrast, leaders from the U.S.-backed majority have held three splashy rallies since February before several thousand people in a Beirut hall, with balloons, confetti and speakers projected on a giant screen. ..."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

لحود .. اطلاق الضباط الاربعة هذا الاسبوع "لتطوي بذلك صفحة سوداء

أعرب الرئيس اميل لحود عن امله في اطلاق الضباط الاربعة هذا الاسبوع "لتطوي بذلك صفحة سوداء جلبت معها الظلم لهم ولعائلاتهم"، وشدد على ضرورة ابعاد اي اعتبارات سياسية او انتخابية يمكن ان تؤثر على قرار المحكمة ما قد يؤدي الى تأخير قرار الاطلاق".

London Times' "Best Photo": Michel Aoun's FPM Billboard

Election campaign billboards installed by General Michel Aoun's opposition Free Patriotic Movement line up a main highway on the northern outskirts of Beirut

"...The Egyptian effort was "more effective" than Israeli bombs..."

Reuters, here
"Tunnel business has dropped to 20 percent of what it was before the war on Gaza because of Israeli destruction and the stepped-up security campaign by Egypt," said Abu Abdallah."... The Egyptian effort was "more effective" than Israeli bombs, he said. They not only blow up the tunnels but also stop contraband goods reaching Egyptian cities near Gaza...... Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, were believed to have their own tunnels, which had always been kept as secret. Israel repeatedly urged Egypt to stop militants from bringing weapons through the private tunnels network..... The Egyptians add to the already considerable physical risks run by Palestinians working the tunnels by sometimes filling them with gas, tunnelers said.

Lebanese need to "kiss less" ...

Reuters, here

"...Swine flu has not yet hit Lebanon but is threatening a national custom. Lebanese should stop greeting each other with kisses to the cheek, Health Minister Mohammad Khalifeh told a news conference on Tuesday called to explain measures to tackle the potential spread of the deadly strain. "If you visit someone, don't exchange kisses... Let's stop the social kissing habit," Khalifeh said. Lebanese have long greeted each other with three kisses to the cheek..."

Ban Ki-moon slams Hezbollah “intimidation” in Lebanon

Washington TV, here
"...Ban Ki-moon on Monday warned that Hezbollah and other armed militias in Lebanon were working to stoke instability and “intimidation”, ahead of parliamentary elections there in June.
“It creates an atmosphere of intimidation in the context of the upcoming parliamentary elections. It also undermines the stability of the region, and is incompatible with the objectives of Resolution 1559,” he added. ...Ban said that Hezbollah’s arsenal is a “direct challenge” to Lebanon’s sovereignty and an “obstacle” for the democratic process there, reports AFP....Ban condemned what he said was Hezbollah’s interference in Egypt’s affairs, after the group admitted to providing support to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip from Egyptian territory..."

Jumblat: "Jihadis should send their car-bombs to the American occupation instead of the hapless civilians..."

In Al Anba' via Al Mustaqbal, here

"... the campaign against Lieberman in the Egyptian media continues to have an impact ..."

Al Hayat, here
"... The signs indicate that the Egyptian-Israeli relationship has entered a phase of transformation, and that there is the possibility of pressure by Washington on Netanyahu, a pragmatist who is susceptible to pressure. It is not unlikely that the scenario might change if Lieberman leaves the government, as an extremist, with the solution lying with Kadima. Thus, the campaign against Lieberman in the Egyptian media continues to have an impact, meaning that official dealings will remain cautious, with the resulting impact on Egyptian-Israeli relations. If this scenario comes to pass and Lieberman exits the Cabinet, Cairo will have achieved a victory that will be taken into consideration and credited with, not only in relation to dealing with Israel, but, more importantly, at the popular level in Egypt, as well as in the confrontation with Iran… and its allies."

"Iran's New Target: Egypt"

Aly is director of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, an Egyptian version of Shencker at WINEP? In the WSJ, here

"... These latest actions by an emboldened Hezbollah have been spurred on by Iran, which is seeking to further its quest for power in the Arab Middle East. In the past six months, there have been irrefutable signs of Iran's determined effort to sabotage Egypt's attempts at regional stability (as we witnessed in Lebanon 06' and Gaza 09'!). At Tehran's instigation, Hamas rejected the renewal of the six-month, Egypt-brokered cease-fire last summer between it and Israel. This rejection led to the Gaza war in December. At the height of that war, Mr. Nasrallah called on the people of Egypt and its army to march on the city of Rafah to open the border to Gaza by force, a highly inflammatory appeal aimed at causing insurrection.

After the war ended, Egypt resumed its efforts to reach a long-term cease-fire. Iran pressured the Hamas leadership to resist. Cairo's ongoing effort to build a Palestinian unity government, by bringing together Fatah and Hamas, has also been undermined by intense Iranian pressure on Hamas.

Tehran sees Egypt as its greatest rival in the region, and the most formidable Arab bulwark opposing its influence. It is in this context that Hezbollah actions in Egypt should be assessed. Acting as a front for Iranian objectives, Hezbollah is tasked with distracting Egypt from the diplomatic process that will hopefully lead one day to a two-state solution in the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Egypt's persistent attempts to bring about peace in this arena and its encouragement of other Arab countries to follow its path with Israel threaten to deprive Iran of the single most potent regional issue that it can exploit to further its radical agenda. ...

It is said that Mr. Obama is still weighing when and where to deliver a major speech to the Arab world. If he were to make such a speech in Cairo, it would give heart to millions in the region who want to see the peace process succeed. It would also send a firm message to Tehran that America stands with Egypt on the side of peace and stability."

"....Netanyahu leaves the US open, finally, to voice & pursue its own positions & interests..."

In the CSM, here
"..In reality, the bad news – and the good – is that Mr. Netanyahu doesn't pretend to be a peacemaker..... Justify Full

Palestinians, unlike Americans, are under no illusion about change under a Netanyahu government; hence the lack of public outcry over the Netanyahu-Avigdor Lieberman alliance. Despite the regular meetings that the US insisted take place since 2002 between Israeli prime ministers and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Abbas never won a single substantive, realized concession. Israel and the US pretended that meetings equaled progress, but, each time, Abbas returned to Ramallah weakened, the object of increasing scorn not only from Hamas, but from his own Fatah supporters.... Finally, Washington can say, clearly and forcefully, that Israel's occupation harms US interests; that an attack on Iran is unacceptable and will get no US support, even in the UN Security Council; that settlement construction must stop and barriers be removed; that meetings are no substitute for progress; that Palestinians must be granted the opportunity – a real one – to form a viable state; and that the time has come for one of the world's wealthiest countries to be weaned off American largess."

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Saudi Arabia probably would be one of the first casualties after an attack on Iran by ..... certain quarters,"

USNews, here
"... Just how deeply disappointed the Saudi royal family must have been with George W. Bush, who along with his father once enjoyed personally cordial ties with the royals, became a bit clearer on Monday at a conference in Washington. "Trials and tribulations of the recent past" is how the kingdom's current minister of commerce and industry, Abdullah Alireza, described the Bush years. He also referred to the last eight years as a "long hibernation." That was an apparent reference to the Saudi (and widespread Arab) view that the Bush administration had taken a long absence from even-handed mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.............
Saudi annoyance with the Bush administration was driven first and foremost by Bush's decision to invade neighboring Iraq in 2003. The kingdom's diplomats, while no fans of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, feared that U.S. military intervention would trigger violence between Shiites and Sunnis, lead to Shiite control, and open a path for Iranian influence. To varying degrees, all of those things happened...........
The Saudis also faulted Bush for maintaining what they regarded as such tight ties to Israel—to the exclusion of Arab views—that Washington was incapable of netting significant progress on the peace process. And the Saudis saw the Bush administration as unwilling to push Israel to curb military attacks on Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza (come again?) that resulted in civilian deaths. A Saudi-authored outline for peace also languished during the period...

The Saudis made clear that they still have their worries. Alireza warned that an attack on Iran would "open up a Wild West in the Middle East." He added, "Saudi Arabia probably would be one of the first casualties after an attack on Iran by certain quarters," presumably a reference to Israel..."

Turki al Faisal: "... years after 9/11, members of Congress were still reluctant to visit Saudi Arabia..."

In the Wash-Times, here

"...Before Sept. 11, 2001, "we had countless" congressional delegations visiting Saudi Arabia, he said. Since then, "there has been a literal stoppage," he added. "You can't believe how few congressional delegations have come to Saudi Arabia," Prince Turki said, adding that he could count them on two hands."

Saudi Arabia grows impatient with Shia's

CSM, here
"....These religious and economic realities help explain the graffiti on view here: "Death to Wahhabi," "Down with the government," and "We will not forget our prisoners."..... Recent developments in Medina and Awwamiya reflect deepening frustration among Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority at continuing discrimination in jobs and schools as well as government tolerance for hateful anti-Shiite rhetoric from Wahhabi clerics, according to more than a dozen Shiite activists, writers, and clerics interviewed in the oil-rich Eastern Province. Shiite leaders also warn of rising militancy in a younger generation that is losing faith in the older leadership's approach of working peacefully for change......the Saudi government is increasingly sensitive to dissent from its Shiite minority, which accounts for around 10 percent of the population. But Shiite leaders say it is local problems – not outside events – that drive Shiite frustration. .....The Medina clashes set off several days of Shiite protests in Eastern Province. Awwamiya's Sheikh Al-Nimer then gave his provocative Friday sermon, before going into hiding. "We will demand our dignity be restored in all permissible ways.... If it comes down to it ... we will call for seceding from this nation," he proclaimed..."

" The US president is deaf to Israel's immediate security concerns..."

DEBKAfile, here

"... This was taken as further proof that the US president is deaf to Israel's immediate security concerns. Lebanese president Gen. Michel Suleiman has more than once threatened neighboring Israel. When he signed the arms deal in Ankara Tuesday, April 21, he once again pledged publicly to place the Lebanese army at the disposal of the Shiite terrorist Hizballah in any confrontation with Israel.

If that happened, said one Israeli source, Israel could find itself under attack not just by Hizballah as in the past, but by a Lebanese army, well trained and armed by Turkey. He noted that more than 50 percent of Lebanon's fighting manpower are Shiites loyal to Hizballah.

The conviction is growing in Jerusalem that the US president endorsed the transaction as a means of breaking up the long-standing military pact between Israel and Turkey, because it interferes with his Middle East objectives. Our sources note that neither Washington nor Ankara bothered to inform Israel of the transaction or its scope.

After meeting Turkish president Abdullah Gul, Suleiman at the head of a large Lebanese military delegation signed the contracts for the sale and declared with deep satisfaction: "We reviewed the new [US] policies towards the region in the light of President Obama's recent visit to Turkey."

"Report on IRAN 'coincides with AIPAC's annual policy conference ..."

In the CABLE, here

"... Frantz's travel to the UN atomic watchdog agency, the IAEA, in Vienna, looks at a number of financial entities in Europe and elsewhere that help Iran conduct overseas financial transactions that allegedly finance its nuclear activities.

The report's release coincides with the influential annual policy conference of the pro-Israel group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which opens this weekend in Washington. Sources had earlier told The Cable that AIPAC officials had met with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) shortly after he became chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee to recommend that the committee's investigative energies could be usefully directed into looking into the Iran sanctions busting issue.

The report's release also roughly coincides with the completion of the Obama administration's Iran policy review. It also emerges as legislation is being introduced on the Hill pushing for tougher sanctions on Iran..."

Egypt’s View: Iran – Hizbollah – Hamas

INSS, via the PULSE, here

"The direct target of the Egyptian regime's attacks in the past two weeks is Hizbollah and its terror arm in Egypt. However, the Egyptians themselves do not conceal the fact that in their view Hizbollah is merely the tool, and that their main concern is the driving force behind the organization - Iran...

The backdrop to the flawed relations between Egypt and Iran is the nature and character of the fundamentalist regime in Tehran which initially initiated the rift with Egypt: immediately after the revolution the new regime annulled the close relations that had existed between the Shah's regime and Egypt. Iran even cut diplomatic ties with Egypt, in response to the signing of the peace treaty with Israel, and Egypt's hosting of the exiled Shah in Cairo after he left Iran.

In the last decade the Egyptian regime sees the Iranian threat as increasing, for two reasons. On the one hand, Egypt considers Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear arms a serious threat. In Egyptian eyes, nuclear arms in Iranian hands would strengthen its position..... and would damage its regional standing. At the same time, the strengthening of the Shiite-radical axis in recent years, following the rise of the Shiite sector in Iraq and in Lebanon, the Iranian penetration into the Palestinian arena, and the strengthening of Iran's regional influence in the face of the United States' weakness is also a cause of concern for Egypt. The case of Qatar - a usually moderate state that also had established ties with Israel - which recently decided to join Iran and the radical camp, also worries Egypt, as a precedent for what is liable to happen among Gulf States following Iranian pressure. It is no wonder that the Egyptian minister of defense, as far back as 1992, defined the Iranian threat as more serious than the threat from Israel. Since then, the Iranian threat has, in Egyptian eyes, increased.

Egypt's view of the strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas in recent years is connected to this. Egypt views these two Islamic organizations as Iranian strongholds on the Mediterranean coastline.... and Nasrallah's popularity on the Arab street, which is perceived as the antithesis of the moderate Arab approach. Hamas presents Egypt with additional dangers, some of which are even more serious: it is affiliated with "the Muslim Brotherhood" .....liable to incite unrest in Egypt, out of support for the Palestinians. For these reasons the Egyptian regime attacked the two organizations during their confrontations with Israel - during the Second Lebanon War and during Operation Cast Lead - and accused them of being responsible for the deterioration in the situation. One could read between the lines that Egypt had an interest for Israel to hit the organizations hard, and to weaken them.

The exposure of Hezbollah's deployment in Egypt, and the episode of arms smuggling via Sudan and Sinai into the Gaza Strip, demonstrated to the Egyptian regime the risks posed to its security by the triangle of Iran - Hizbollah - Hamas. The activities affront Egyptian sovereignty and the honor of the Egyptian regime, present a threat to the central administration and create vacuums in its control. There is already such a vacuum in Sinai, dangerously close to the Gaza Strip, and in the past there were such vacuums in Upper Egypt and in the poor neighborhoods of Cairo, which acted as a breeding ground for extremist Islamic terror organizations......

From Israel's point of view, the Egyptian position is of twofold importance. It is important for Israel that Egypt take significant steps against terror elements which are looking primarily to harm Israel - both within Egypt and from the Gaza Strip. It is also important, from Israel's point of view, that a major Arab element came out openly - and not for the first time - against the radical triangle of Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas, and presented it as an opponent and a threat to the moderate Arabic camp. Nevertheless, despite the common interest of Israel and Egypt in blocking the radical triangle, it is difficult to expect open cooperation between them against it. One may assume that Egypt will be willing to use clandestine Israeli intelligence support in acting against it, but would prefer to act alone, or within an inter-Arab framework, due to its sensitivity to cooperation with Israel, which would attract internal and inter-Arabic criticism."

Wayne Madsen's: ".. CIA's top expert on the illegal transfer of Patriot missile radar technology to the Israelis...and from them, to Russia & China.."

Via reader MRW on SST:
"Bennett's work on Patriot technology transfer to Israel confirmed by DIA source

WMR has learned from a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) source that the late CIA officer, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel William Bennett, who was assaulted, along with his wife, and bludgeoned to death on March 22 in Landsdowne, Virginia was the CIA's top expert on the illegal transfer of Patriot missile radar and other technology to the Israelis. Bennett was particularly focused on the transfer of Patriot technology by the Israelis to the Russians and Chinese.

U.S. Air Force sources report that Bennett was a key player in preparing internal intelligence damage assessment reports that concluded that America's fleet of stealth B-2s and F-117s are now vulnerable as Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) platforms because the aircraft can no longer fly over their intended targets without running the risk of being shot down. The B-2 and F-117 stealth capabilities, including the 20,000 pound bunker buster modification to the B-2, have been neutralized by the Patriot reverse engineering accomplished by the Russians and Chinese, with the assistance of the Israelis. The United States has been forced to rely on standoff weapons like the Tomahawk cruise missile against hardened targets like underground nuclear facilities. The Israeli compromise of U.S. stealth and radar technology has been termed as a "major blow back" by U.S. intelligence officials. The United States last provided Patriot missile systems to Israel in 2006 when Hezbollah launched missile attacks on northern Israel from southern Lebanon. Patriot batteries were also deployed to Israel in 2003 before the U.S. military attack on Iraq.

The Israelis also reportedly provided to the Russians a "radar cross section by frequency patterns," which has been termed the "mother lode" of America's stealth technology.

WMR has also learned that Israeli intelligence penetration of America's radar and stealth technology was collaterally accomplished by the placement of Israeli intelligence agents within the engineering ranks of two defense contractors: Lockheed Martin and its F-22 program and Raytheon, the manufacturer of the Patriot system."

Washington-Tehran: "Counternarcotics Cooperation?"

WINEP, here

"... The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) should be allowed to establish direct communication and cooperation with its Iranian law enforcement counterparts. Iranian officials have sought this kind of arrangement in the past, and some senior U.S. State Department leaders have even lobbied for it; however, previous administrations have prohibited the DEA from moving forward.

This year the DEA is cohosting -- with its Mexican counterparts -- its twenty-seventh annual International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) in Cancun, Mexico. The IDEC has grown from a five-country, Western-hemisphere-centric endeavor, to a global effort involving approximately one hundred nations. Ninety-one countries participated in the 2008 event in Istanbul, Turkey. The IDEC venue could provide an ideal opportunity to open relations between the DEA and Iranian law enforcement, as well as other law enforcement agencies from around the globe, ultimately paving the way for a new era of cooperation between the United States and Iran.

After initial exchanges, the next step is to share intelligence and evidence, ideally though the establishment of a DEA office in Tehran. The DEA has the largest U.S. law enforcement presence abroad (eighty-six offices in sixty-seven countries), made possible only by the acceptance of DEA agents as federal narcotics officers, not spies. Gaining that acceptance in Iran will be a great challenge, and it certainly would not happen overnight. But it is important to set long-term goals. Although no foreign government has succeeded in working with Iran in this manner -- and the recent conviction of a foreign journalist as a spy is alarming -- the DEA has been extraordinarily effective in sharing related leads and sensitive drug intelligence with their counterparts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries throughout the region and the world.

Policing is a science, and complex counternarcotics policing is even more challenging. Senior politicians from both countries becoming involved in police business could be disastrous. Since the problem will be compounded by the role of the IRGC, a reflexively anti-American force, the challenge will be to find a way for cooperation among senior law enforcement leaders, working at a "cop-to-cop" level..."

Philip Giraldi: "Some Might Call It Treason"

CIA's Giraldi, here at AW

"...The real Harman story is about Israel intelligence operations directed against the United States which have brought about the systematic corruption of the America’s political system by a foreign power aided and abetted by friends strategically placed throughout the government and the media. Just imagine if Harman had obtained either senior intelligence position that she sought. She would have had access to every sort of top secret intelligence possessed by the US government and would have been in a good position to influence policy. From the Israeli perspective, she would have been their spy, a highly placed agent of influence who could also provide every bit of sensitive intelligence in the CIA cupboard. The apparent fact that she agreed to help an agent of a foreign government and was to be rewarded with advancement makes her something like Kim Philby, the British spy of the 1960s who progressed through his own system while secretly working for another country, Russia. Philby was a whole lot smarter, but the essential betrayal was the same. Those who argue that Israel is no Cold War Russia miss the point, as the national interests of the U.S. and Israel are far from identical, particularly after a series of right-wing governments in Tel Aviv has culminated in the current monstrosity of Netanyahu-Lieberman.

Once you are on the hook in an intelligence relationship, there is no getting off it. Had Harman done a favor for the Israelis and been rewarded in return, it would have been a skeleton in her closet forever. The Israelis might also have taped the incriminating conversations, presumably unaware that the FBI was also on the line. The Israelis would surely remind her of her crime whenever they need a favor, and she would be forced to pay the piper whenever called upon. What could have been better for Israel than owning the director of central intelligence or the head of the House Intelligence Committee? What could have been worse for the United States?..."

DE BORCHGRAVE: "Is Pakistan another Iran?"

UPI, here
"He (Zardari) says Pakistan is in a state of war without defining the enemy. For the Taliban and Pakistan's landless millions, the enemy is Pakistan's political establishment and the feudal estates that enjoy government protection.
Pakistan is increasingly a rerun of the Islamic fundamentalist revolution in Iran that ousted the pro-Western regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1979 .... To understand the angry growl of Pakistan's 170 million people, look at the number of Taliban (students) that are graduated from Pakistan's 12,500 madrassas, the free-board Koranic schools. They grind out some 2 million teenage boys a year. They are the sons of small or landless peasants who cannot afford the fees of proper schools; ...

Many join the ranks of Pakistan's professional army. And they believe that shooting at Taliban insurgents in the Swat Valley or Buner, 60 miles from Islamabad, or the seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas that abut the Afghan border, is tantamount to killing the soldiers of Allah. ....Under tremendous U.S. pressure to take action against the Taliban and al-Qaida in FATA, the army saw 1,400 killed and 4,000 wounded in 2007-2008. Their heart was not in it. They were fighting their own people. ...

Then black-turbaned Taliban insurgents, rocket-propelled grenade rifles and AK-47s slung over their shoulders, pushed their luck and moved into the neighboring Buner district, 60 miles northwest from the seat of government in Islamabad. Clinton and special envoy for AFPAK Richard Holbrooke raised a cry of alarm and leaned on Zardari and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq P. Kayani to take action. But Clinton also conceded some U.S. responsibility for sowing the seeds of Islamic extremism as a means of undermining the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Today's Taliban are the sons of yesterday's mujahedin guerrillas.

The Pakistani government responded by dispatching eight platoons of paramilitary troops to shore up its authority. Taliban militants ignored them ... By week's end, it became increasingly clear Pakistan was spinning out of control with a discredited, ineffectual government that the army did not seem inclined to save for the benefit of corrupt politicians. Waiting in the wings was Nawaz Sharif, ... Zardari served more than 11 years in prison on corruption charges but proudly says he was never convicted. Similarly plagued by accusations of corruption throughout his two stints as prime minister in the 1990s, Nawaz still enjoys a huge following. ..."

EU: "Lebanon at the "bottom of the scale" .."

Daily Star, here

"...It's a pity that Lebanon is one of our worst partners," he said, adding that while Morocco filed 44 project proposals since the partnership with the EU was established in  2007, Lebanon has so far submitted four proposals only.   

The document, which covers the period between January and December 2008 shows that the slowdown in development was caused by the recent state of political turmoil that the country faced since the 2005 parliamentary elections. The report cites the summer 2006 war with Israel, the delay in electing a president, and the May 2008 street conflicts between opposition fighters and gunmen from the March 14 Forces. ..."

"..Meshaal welcomes the change in the US policies on Iran and Syria.."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung via FARS, here
"In an interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Meshaal pointed out that Hamas is not afraid of being the victim of this rapprochement and pay the price. 
"This means that Americans are changing their policy in the region, including changing also towards Hamas," He said..."

Israel's secret plan for West Bank expansion

The Independent, here

"... The Israeli Peace Now group, which monitors settlement growth, said it had obtained plans drawn up by experts that the interior ministry had commissioned which call for expanding the sprawling Maale Adumim settlement near Jerusalem southward by 1200 hectares, placing what is now the separate smaller settlement of Kedar within Maale Adumim's boundaries. The expansion is on a highly sensitive piece of real estate that both sides see as holding the key to whether the Palestinians will have a viable state with their own corridor between the north and south parts of the West Bank..."

Clinton: U.S. could deal with P.A. gov’t that includes Hamas

JTA, here
“In the event of any Hamas participation of any sort in this coalition, this would apply if the government, representing all of its agencies and instrumentalities, accepts these principles.”

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Modern Palestinian demand for state stems from anti-Semitic desire to harass Jews"

(A Palestinian "Harassing Brigade" ...)
YNET, here
"...The Kurds, for example, a people boasting a rich history and numbering 25 million souls, are forced to get by without a state of their own. The Basques, Catalonians, Corsicans, and Scots also have no state. Even the Native Americans, Flemish, the Copts and the Maronites have no state. Therefore, it is quite odd that it is precisely the absence of a Palestinian state that preoccupies the international community and the Israeli consciousness.
But in fact, it’s not so odd. The demand for the establishment of a Palestinian state, speaking of the recent Durban II conference, is another type of anti-Semitic trick against us. With all the giant states in the Middle East, it is the Jewish State that is required to share with the Palestinians the little territory that we have. Instead of our neighboring countries crowding a little more in favor of their repressed brethren, we are the only ones required to make do with less territory....
Their modern demand for independence stems from a desire to harass us. Should Obama suddenly proposes not to have any state here – neither ours nor theirs – they may be sympathetic to the idea. Try it and you’ll see."